This article originally appeared in 2014. We’re republishing to celebrate Punk Week. Top Songs is a feature in which we definitively handpick the very best songs in an artist or band’s catalog. Sounds simple, right? Oh, if only.
“This is more difficult than I initially thought it would be,” my colleague and fellow punk enthusiast Collin Brennan noted as we went about preparing this list.
He wasn’t kidding. Because Rancid has been my favorite band for almost two decades, having directly or indirectly pointed me in the direction of the wide swath of music I listen to today, I thought the task of narrowing down the band’s catalog to 10 essential tracks would be pretty straightforward. Then you sit down and try to rank and file everything only to find that beneath the tattoos, Mohawks, and bondage pants, Rancid have a lot of really great songs.
Over the course of 26 years and eight full-length records, Tim Armstrong, Lars Fredericksen, Matt Freeman, Brett Reed, and most recently Branden Steineckert have proven that they’re not just a bunch of savvy, streetwise punk professors, but that they’ve also got a handle on what makes a good pop song sing better than perhaps any of their peers. To think that the same band that kicked down sonic walls on “Adrina” could also pull heartstrings without losing its edge on “Who Would’ve Thought.”
Having said that, this list went through more than a few revisions. We labored over our favorite tracks, which we found consisted of nearly all of them. But after much contemplation, we looked beyond our personal favorites to settle on 10 songs that best represent the East Bay legends’ mighty body of work.
You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll probably passionately disagree in spots, but on the eve of the release of Rancid’s ninth full-length record, Trouble Maker, these are the 10 tracks we hoist a glass and give a hearty Oi! to.
See ya in the pit…
— Ryan Bray
Senior Staff Writer